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Friedman to Head US National Economic Council - 2002-12-12

President Bush has chosen a former Wall Street investment banker as his top White House economic advisor. The appointment of Stephen Friedman completes a shake-up of the president's economic team.

Mr. Friedman came under attack from fiscal conservatives as soon as it became known that he was a candidate for the important White House post. They said he was not an advocate of tax cuts, a prime element of the president's economic policy.

But Mr. Bush rejected their protests, leaving no doubt he thinks Stephen Friedman is the right man for the job. "He is an innovative economic thinker, a proven manager, and he is a business leader of national standing," Mr. Bush said.

The president said Mr. Friedman shares his objectives for stronger economic growth and will help draft a package of measures, including tax cuts, designed to give the economy a boost.

'I will work with Steve and others on a growth and jobs package that we will present to the new Congress," Mr. Bush went on to say. "In order to continue our economic recovery we will propose further steps to add new jobs, reduce the burden on our taxpayers and strengthen investor confidence."

Stephen Friedman replaces Lawrence Lindsey, who resigned under pressure last Friday. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill also stepped down that day. President Bush has nominated railroad executive John Snow to succeed Mr. O'Neill.

In brief remarks at the White House, Mr. Friedman said he is ready to go to work with the rest of the president's new economic team.

"We must address pressure on family budgets and savings, the need to create more jobs, slow growth in our overseas export markets and disappointing business investment," he explained.

Until his retirement in 1994, Stephen Friedman was an executive with the Goldman Sachs investment firm. He worked in tandem at the company with Robert Rubin, who later served as former President Clinton's treasury secretary.